When there is conflict it is important that WILPF, not only pays attention, but takes action. On Syria we are doing both. The following is a statement, written by our president, Adilia Caravaca, to remind us of the need to advocate for peace and end conflict.
Stop war in Syria, let dialogue prevail. Solidarity with Syrian women.
War increases its toll in Syria as latest UN estimates 60,000 deaths in the 21 months of war, and foresee that 50,000 additional deaths may occur in the months to come. This is ongoing, while nearly a million persons are in Refugee camps. Conditions are harsh food and water are scarce, and the cold winter temperatures oscillate around 2°C Fear and want is entrenched in daily life.
It is hard to imagine the situation there, where casualties, atrocities, bombings, fires have been destroying the lives of loved one, homes, buildings, infrastructure, historical monuments and communities with all ruthlessness. Yet, we all, women and men around the world, who have pledged to work for peace, must try to understand and relate to this situation; send our message of solidarity and strengthen our call to stop this war. As Jane Addams once said: “We do think it is valuable to state a new point of view. We do think it is fitting that women should meet and take counsel to see what may be done” .
Recalling Jane Addams speech at the closing of the 1st International Congress of Women (The Hague, 1915) stating that “the solidarity of women” would hold because “spiritual internationalism… surrounds and completes our family (and national) life”, and there are “universal emotions which have nothing to do with natural frontiers” and she called on women to “dig new channels” for internationalism and solidarity to flow.
Keeping in mind the complexity of the internal conflict, the many forces involved, the enormous war corporate interests that arm the different factions at war, governmental and non-governmental; regardless of the narratives and intentions of the belligerent forces in Syria, women now, as those of the 1915 1st Congress for Peace, can state “(The Congress) therefore urges the governments of the world to put an end to this bloodshed, and to begin peace negotiations. It demands that the peace which follows shall be permanent and therefore based on principles of justice”.
Women must be active participants in peace negotiations and in post conflict reconstruction, as peace workers with full agency and rights. It is not the role of women to simply manage the crisis in existing wars, or carry out the tasks of cleaning up the mess and re-building after the destruction of wars.
WILPF was created to actively engage in international relations as agents to prevent or end wars – to continuously address the root causes of wars, to ensure peace is based “on principles of justice”.
Expressing our solidarity with the fellow human beings involved in this conflict, especially the civilians, men and women, suffering immensely, under this war and the humanitarian crisis it has caused; being aware of the differentiated and acute way violence is perpetrated against women in such context; the Women´s International League for Peace and Freedom call civil and governmental organizations around the world to raise their voices in calling for:
1) A ceasefire to enable initiatives for dialogue to be fully supported by the Security Council. The ongoing mediation and diplomatic activities of UN and Arab League, lead by Lakhdar Brahimi, must be a priority and the participation of women in all parts of this process must be assured.
2) Respect international humanitarian law and the obligations regarding the protection of civilians and the creation of safe corridors for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and to enable women, children and other civilians to seek safety.
3) An arms embargo: and we urge you to write letters to our national authorities, missions in U.N. and the UN Security Council President: to call all UN member States for an arms embargo on all involved in this conflict.
4) Advocate with donors and humanitarian agencies to ensure the humanitarian assistance is both sufficient and appropriate to the context, in particular from a gender perspective.
WILPF is also engaging in concrete ways with partners in the region to find ways to address the situation, as we did and are still doing with our MENA Agenda 1325 project.